Former Orange, Cedar Ridge shortstop Dante DeFranco commits to Charlotte

Updated: October 23, 2019

Yet another Hillsborough baseball product is set to take his talent to the college level.

Last week, former Orange and Cedar Ridge shortstop/2nd baseman Dante DeFranco committed to Charlotte. The 49ers were the only school to offer DeFranco a scholarship. UNC Asheville, UNC Greensboro, and Old Dominion also recruited DeFranco.

“I’ve been wanting to go to Charlotte for about two years now,” DeFranco said. “The coaching staff is great. The atmosphere is great. The campus is beautiful and it’s not too far from home. It’s Division I baseball.”

DeFranco joins former teammates Cooper Porter, Joey Berini, and Phillip Berger as players who have committed to playing in college. Porter, a senior left fielder, committed to N.C. State after his freshman year. Berini agreed to attend East Carolina in June. Berger, the winningest pitcher in Cedar Ridge history, started classes at William Peace University in Raleigh last August.

DeFranco spent his first three years at Cedar Ridge, where he played shortstop for two teams that won state playoff games. He shared the middle infield with his younger brother, Jake. As a sophomore in 2017, DeFranco helped Cedar Ridge to a 17-7 record, including a 4-1 win over Nash Central in the opening round of the 3A State Playoffs. It was Cedar Ridge’s first postseason win in eleven years.

DeFranco led the Red Wolves with 30 hits. He hit .375 with 17 RBIs.

In his junior season, DeFranco hit .348 with 19 runs, 24 hits and 20 RBIs. The DeFrancos, Berger Adam Chnupa, Sailor Ramos and Matthew Kahn helped the Red Wolves to an 18-6 season, its best record of the decade. Cedar Ridge defeated Southern Alamance in the 3A State Playoffs before falling to Terry Sanford in Fayetteville.

In his senior season, Cedar Ridge didn’t field a varsity football team. DeFranco, who started for Scott Loosemore’s final Cedar Ridge football team as a junior, and four other Red Wolves received permission from the Orange County School Board to transfer to Orange to continue their gridiron careers. DeFranco started at wide receiver and was third on the team with 20 receptions for 200 yards.

Last spring, DeFranco started at 2nd base for Orange. He kicked off his senior year by lining the very first pitch of the season off the left field wall for a stand-up double against Ragsdale in Jamestown in an 18-0 win. DeFranco alternated between the top two batting slots for first-year head coach Jason Knapp. He was 2nd on the team with a .425 batting average. He also had 31 hits (tied for 2nd on the team) and a team-high 29 RBIs. DeFranco also tied for the team lead with three home runs.

In Charlotte, DeFranco will play under Robert Woodard, who was named the new 49ers head coach in June. Woodard has been the pitching coach at UNC the past three years.

“The whole coaching staff is awesome,” DeFranco said. “The hitting coach is Bo Robinson and he’s been in Charlotte for awhile now. When I was a sophomore and junior, I used to go to a bunch of camps at Charlotte. He was one of the coaches I talked to the most.”

While he spends the next year in the Triangle, DeFranco is staying in shape for baseball by playing for the Pro5 Baseball Academy out of Raleigh. This month, the Pro5 team has trips scheduled for Barton College in Wilson, Lenior Community College, South Carolina-Lancaster, Brunswick Community College and even a journey to Puerto Rico for Halloween.

DeFranco is currently taking courses at Wake Technical Community College. He plans to enroll in Charlotte next August.

The list of former Hillsborough products who are currently playing college baseball include Brad Debo (N.C. State), Landon Riley (Liberty), DeFranco’s former teammate Brandon Andrews (Nicholls), Will White (Greensboro College), Jason Slaughter (Belmont Abbey), Caige Clayton (Brevard College).

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